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Tech & Science NASA solar probe 'alive and well' after first encounter with the sun

03:30  09 november  2018
03:30  09 november  2018 Source:   cnet.com

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is now the closest to the Sun that any spacecraft has ever been

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is now the closest to the Sun that any spacecraft has ever been NASA's much-hyped mission to "touch the Sun" has only been underway for a couple of months, but it's already achieved something that no other spacecraft before it has. The plucky Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the Sun than any other spacecraft before it, coming within 26.55 million miles of our star on October 29th, and of course it’s still pushing onward. Its current distance from the Sun is still quite large, but that’ll change as the probe continues to creep closer and closer, eventually reaching just a few million miles from the center of the Solar System. Its closest approach should bring it within 3.

That will set up the first solar encounter in November. Altogether, the Parker probe will make 24 It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive , and Parker wasn't about to By better understanding the sun 's life-giving and sometimes violent nature, Earthlings can better

How NASA 's Parker solar probe is preparing for an encounter with the sun - video. A last-minute technical problem has delayed Nasa ’s unprecedented flight to the After the first Venus flyby in late September, the spacecraft will reach the sun in November and beam home its first data in December.

NASA solar probe 'alive and well' after first encounter with the sun© CNET NASA's Parker Probe: Everything you need to know the plan to 'touch the sun'

After coming closer to the sun than any other man-made object in history, the Parker Solar Probe is in good health, NASA reports. High fives all round!

NASA solar probe 'alive and well' after first encounter with the sun© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. parkerinfrontofsun-tb

On Wednesday, the probe's status beacon beamed back an "A" -- the best of the four possible status updates -- suggesting Parker is operating well. Even if there were any issues, the probe fixed them autonomously, while in space, travelling at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour.

The probe's perihelion, or the point in orbit where it's closest to the sun, came on Nov. 5, where it reached a top speed of 213,200 miles per hour -- fast enough to get it from New York to Boston in 3.7 seconds. At its current distance of around 15 million miles from the sun's "surface", the probe's cutting-edge heat shield protected it from temperatures reaching 820 degrees Fahrenheit. By the end of the mission, the shield will be exposed to temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hot.

Parker, now a dual world-record holder, will continue to collect data until Nov. 11, the end of its first "solar encounter phase" which began on Oct. 31.

After the retirement of revolutionary space telescope Kepler, the sad demise of Dawn and the grim outlook for Mars explorer Opportunity, it's nice to get a wholly positive update from our interplanetary space robots. Parker's mission will bring it back within 15 million miles of the sun on April 4, 2019, as it continues its seven-year mission to get ever closer to our star.


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